Defending Dads

You're doing your jobs. You and your kids deserve better.

Weighty Subjects

If it’s all about the kids, then there’s no getting away from this: Too many American dads skip regular exercise and eat carelessly. Obviously, this is not healthy for the dads and sets poor examples for the kids.

Relax. I’m not the Fitness Police and you’re not sitting on a lawnchair in a four-square-foot, windowless box with sound proofing tiles for wall paper facetiously referred to as an “interview room”. Diet and obesity are very sensitive topics, but like the stacks of mail I have tucked away in a kitchen cabinet, sooner or later, they must be addressed.

There is any number of diet and/or exercise regimens a man can adopt, all accessible via internet, TV or the local FYE. Most of these are well researched, slickly produced ways to pick your pocket. If you can work through those routines without going into cardiac arrest, congratulations, but most of us just can’t buy good health and physical conditioning in a kit for three “low” payments of $49.99. Good health and physical conditioning are about long-term commitment, discipline, hard work and maintaining good eating habits.

I have always enjoyed lifting weights, but I got more involved with cardiovascular fitness and improved eating habits in my 30s. These critical factors influenced the changes:

  1. I was in love and I wanted to be attractive to my wife.
  2. Once I started making my living at a desk, I knew I was likely to live longer.
  3. I had observed the few surviving examples of older black men in my world, most of whom were dealing with high blood pressure, diabetes, HIV and related complications.
  4. I had the nerve to have kids at 38 and 39 years old! They were the real game changers.

As conscious as I was of all the above, by age 43, I managed to swell up to 205 lbs. The stress of family life led me to swap my dumbells for a fork and a shot glass. At 5’9″, I was looking more like Kevin James than Ray Rice.

One day, I got a notion to go out on my deck to skip rope. I positioned my phone to get it on video. In no time, I was winded. Curious, I picked up my phone to review the clip. I was mortified. There, on digital video even, was my gut bouncing in direct opposition to the rest of my body! Wake up call? It was more like a defibrillator shock. Obviously, I returned to the gym.

Ironically, the same stress that led to my weight gain triggered a rapid weight loss. By my 46th birthday, I weighed 165 lbs. That wasn’t a healthy look either. My cheeks were so hollow, I didn’t have to open my mouth for a dental exam. Once again, I had to get myself together.

At 48, I remain trim, but the challenges of child care and aftermath of divorce cause my appetite to fluctuate. I do feel that things are leveling out, though. I’m confident that in a few short months, I’ll be ready to produce my own glitzy, wiz-bang fitness program designed especially for single fathers. I think I’ll call it “Buff Daddies” or “Pumped Papas”. Act now and get a bonus copper-laced sweatband, a $49.99 value, absolutely free!

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